OFFSTAGE: Garth Brooks and George Strait Sing Goodbye to Dick Clark

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

This wasn’t about Garth Brooks, and it wasn’t about George Strait. The tribute the two icons paid to the late Dick Clark on Sunday night’s (April 7) ACM Awards was only about saying goodbye. But in doing so, the two country legends reminded everyone watching how timeless music lives on forever.

Reba McEntire introduced Brooks and Strait, saying that the two icons — who have both been named ACM Artist of the Decade — were teaming up for the first time in honor of Clark. Brooks started with his 1990 hit, “The Dance.” Written by Tony Arata, the song paints the perfect picture of how life is better left to chance. I’ve always thought of it as a lost-love song, but after this performance, it feels more like a fitting tribute to someone who lived life to its fullest. Dick Clark hosted American Bandstand for 30 years, so he is one man who never missed the dance.

After “The Dance,” Strait joined Brooks for a duet of his 1985 hit, “The Cowboy Rides Away,” an equally moving song that fit the tribute perfectly — right down to the last lines: “And my heart is sinking like a setting sun/Setting on the things I wish I’d done/Oh, the last goodbye’s the hardest one to say/And this is where the cowboy rides away.”

The memories of Dick Clark will keep him alive in our hearts for years to come. Let’s hope this kind of country music does the same.